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Current Affairs 13 April 2024


  1. AIIMS Study to test accuracy of HPV kits
  2. Increasing global capacity of plants running on fossil fuel
  3. Invasive species-a threat to the ecosystem
  4. ADB’s forecast for India’s GDP growth
  5. Novel Hydrogen to aid the removal of Microplastics from water
  6. Domestic Violence Act is applicable to all women irrespective of religion, social background

AIIMS Study to test accuracy of HPV kits


As a first ever initiative, AIIMS, Delhi launches a project that aims to validate the made in India testing kits for the human papilloma virus (HPV), that causes cervical cancer.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  3. About Cervical Cancer
  4. India’s Alarming Statistics
  5. Detection of Cervical Cancer
  6. Global Efforts and India’s Progress


  • The study will assess the efficacy of HPV screening test kits as per international quality standards.
  • The project will start by studying 1,200 samples from France, drawn from a biorepository of WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
  • Significance:
    • Cervical cancer continues to be a major problem globally.
    • Around, 127,000 of the 600,000 cases per year are in India.
    • Of the 300,000 deaths across the world, 80,000 deaths are from India.
    • Once validated, they can benefit millions of women in India and other low-income and middle-income countries to get rid of cervical cancer as early as possible at affordable costs.
    • These indigenous HPV test was developed to make it user-friendly, operable and accessible even in the periphery hospitals.
      • Today, the HPV test kits available are priced between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000 but the indigenous kits will be priced lesser than this.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

  • HPV is a family of over 200 viruses, with 40 transmitted through direct sexual contact.
  • Two types cause genital warts, while about a dozen can lead to various cancers, with over 95% of cervical cancers attributed to HPV.
  • It is the most common sexually transmitted infection globally and spreads through skin-to-skin contact.
  • Most infections are asymptomatic, and the body often clears the virus, but persistent infections can lead to cancer.
  • HPV vaccination is crucial for cancer prevention in both men and women.
  • HPV Vaccine Overview:
    • Administered through a series of shots, the vaccine guards against HPV infections causing cancer or genital warts.
    • Most effective when given between ages 9-26; its efficacy decreases after HPV exposure.
    • Ineffective during pregnancy; the vaccine isn’t administered at that time.
    • Key focus on preventing HPV before exposure, as the vaccine may not be as effective post-infection.

About Cervical Cancer:

  • Cervical cancer, affecting the neck of the womb, stands out among cancers due to its strong association (99%, according to the World Health Organization) with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus transmitted through sexual contact.
  • It stands as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in India, with over 77,000 cases annually, estimated to be the second most frequent cancer among Indian women aged 15 to 44.
  • Despite the availability of a vaccine, the concerning reality is that the national prevalence of cervical cancer screening remains just under 2%, with outcomes dependent on the stage of detection.

HPV Connection:

HPV, a common virus affecting almost all sexually active individuals, often presents without symptoms. While the immune system usually clears the virus, high-risk strains can lead to cancer.

India’s Alarming Statistics:

  • India bears a substantial burden, representing nearly a quarter of global cervical cancer deaths.
  • Annually, around 1.25 lakh women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and tragically, approximately 75,000 lose their lives to this disease.

Detection of Cervical Cancer:

  • Ironically, cervical cancer can be easily detected in a public health setting using minimal tools – the human eye, a dilution of white vinegar, and a dab of Lugol’s iodine.
  • These tests, known as VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid) and VILI (Visual Inspection with Lugol’s Iodine), assist in identifying precancerous lesions and cancer at an early stage, well before advanced disease stages are detectable through cytology.
  • A straightforward and brief procedure, cryotherapy, can then be performed while the patient is awake to eliminate abnormal growth.
  • Considering the ease of prevention, identification, and treatment of cervical cancer, it is unacceptable that numerous women succumb to the disease.

Global Efforts and India’s Progress:

  • WHO’s Elimination Strategy: In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated a strategy to eliminate cervical cancer as a global public health concern. The strategy focuses on three pillars: vaccination, screening, and treatment.
  • Positive Trends in India: Although India may not achieve the 2030 goals outlined by WHO, there is a glimmer of hope. Incidence rates are decreasing, potentially attributed to factors like sexual hygiene, pregnancy age, contraception use, and individual immune status.
  • Comprehensive Approach: Experts emphasize the necessity for a multifaceted approach, including awareness programs, vaccination campaigns, regular screenings, and education to combat stigma.

-Source: The Indian Express

Increasing global capacity of plants running on fossil fuel


According to the latest report by the US-based think-tank, Global Energy Monitoring, there is a rise in the number of thermal power plants in the two countries, namely China and India.

  • China alone accounted for two-thirds of the world’s newly operating coal plants last year.  The rate at which this country augmented its thermal power capacity was not seen in the past 9 years.
  • These developments go against the efforts to meet the targets of Paris climate pact of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • The report also witnessed a slow rate of decommissioning of power plants in the US.


GS-III Indian Economy, Industry and Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Coal?
  2. What is the extent of India’s dependence on coal?
  3. The Paris Accord
  4. India’s NDC

What is Coal?

  • Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock rich in carbon and hydrocarbons that takes millions of years to develop, making it a non-renewable energy source.
  • Coal is also known as black gold
  • It contains energy stored by plants that flourished hundreds of millions of years ago in swampy forests.
  • Coal is made up of carbon, volatile matter, moisture, and ash, as well as [in some situations] sulphur and phosphorus.
  • Metallurgy and power generation are the most common applications for this material.

What is the extent of India’s dependence on coal?

  • As of February 2022, the installed capacity for coal-based power generation across the country was 2.04 lakh megawatt (MW).
  • This accounts for about 51.5% of power from all sources.
  • This compares with about 25,000 MW of capacity based on natural gas as fuel, or a mere 6.3% of all installed capacity.
  • Renewable power accounted for 1.06 lakh MW or 27%.
  • Coal-based power stations are retired periodically which happens all the time.
  • But is not fast enough nor are new additions being halted. And with good reason – coal is still inexpensive compared with other sources of energy.
  • For FY20, for example, India added 6,765 MW power capacity based on coal as fuel. But only 2,335 MW was retired.
  • According to the IEA’s Coal Report 2021, India’s coal consumption will increase at an average annual rate of 3.9% to 1.18 billion tonnes in 2024.

The Paris Accord

  • It is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 countries at the Conference of the Parties COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. • The Accord de Paris sur le Climat
  • It was adopted by 196 countries in December 2015.
  • The long-term temperature goal was intended to be achieved as part of the Paris Climate Accord’s (PCA) intended outcomes.
  • Countries have set the goal of reaching a global peak in greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible in order to realise their goal of a climate-neutral world by the middle of the century.
  • The Paris Climate Accord has as its primary objective the reduction of global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and, preferably, to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to levels that existed before industrialization.

Positive Aspects

  • Finally, an agreement, after earlier embarrassing performances in Cancun and Copenhagen
  • More accountability has been able to be established given that countries have come out with their own national plan.
  • The CBDR principle has been respected throughout the entirety of this agreement, and

Negative Aspects

  • The absence of binding targets as of the Kyoto protocol is one of the negative aspects.
  • Concerns have been raised about the developed countries’ ability to provide financial assistance and technological support.
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) nations believe that a temperature of 2 degrees Celsius is insufficient, and that for their survival, the temperature should be less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

India’s NDC

  • Countries from all over the world had pledged to reach a new international climate agreement (Paris Agreement) by the end of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015.
    • The Paris Agreement is a global treaty in which over 200 countries agreed to collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change.
    • The agreement aims to limit global warming to less than 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, when compared to pre-industry levels.
  • Countries have agreed to make public their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for post-2020 climate action in order to meet Paris Agreement targets.
    • The INDC is a non-binding national plan that emphasises climate change mitigation, including climate-related targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2015.

-Source: The Hindu

Invasive species-a threat to the ecosystem


The Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration recently sought help from the Wildlife Institute of India to manage the teeming population of chital (spotted deer) in Ross Island.

  • Ross Island is officially known as the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Island.
  • Chital is an animal native to mainland India. It was introduced to the tiny island (0.3 sq km small) by the British in the early 20th century.
  • The Island having no natural predators or competitors, and being good swimmers, chital swiftly spread across the Andamans.
  • These invasive species are posing a threat to the Andamans’ forest cover.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Invasive Alien Species
  2. Impacts of Invasive Alien Species

Invasive Alien Species:

Invasive alien species, also known as invasive exotic species or non-native species, are organisms introduced to regions or ecosystems outside their native range. These species establish self-sustaining populations and often outcompete native species, disrupting ecosystem balance and causing negative impacts.

Factors Contributing to the Rise of Invasive Species:

  • Global Trade and Travel: Increased international trade and travel have unintentionally facilitated the movement of species across borders. Cargo ships, airplanes, and vehicles can carry invasive species within cargo, ballast water, or attached to surfaces, aiding their spread.
  • Climate Change: Elevated temperatures and shifts in precipitation patterns create environments suitable for invasive species. Altered seasonal timings can disrupt native species’ life cycles, making them vulnerable to invasive competitors and predators.
  • Deliberate Introductions: Introducing non-native species intentionally for purposes like gardening, landscaping, and pest control can lead to invasions if these species escape cultivation.
  • Historical Factors: Some invasive species, like the Black Rat introduced to Australia in the late 1800s, have historical origins associated with shipwrecks and industries like pearling. These species are now recognized as some of the “World’s Worst” invasive species.

Impacts of Invasive Alien Species:

Invasive species can have profound and often detrimental effects on ecosystems, economies, and human health. Here are some key impacts:

  • Competition with Native Species: Invasive species can outcompete native species for essential resources like food, water, and habitat, leading to a decline or extinction of native species.
  • Predation: Some invasive species become predators of native species, causing declines in prey populations. This can disrupt ecological food webs and ecosystems.
  • Ecosystem Disruption: These disruptions have far-reaching consequences for ecosystem stability and resilience, often altering the natural balance of ecosystems.
  • Economic Costs: The annual economic costs of invasive alien species have been steadily increasing, exceeding USD 423 billion globally in 2019. Costs can include damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and fisheries.
  • Infrastructure Damage: Species like Zebra mussels can clog water pipes and infrastructure, leading to expensive repairs and maintenance.
  • Reduction of Food Supply: Many invasive species impact food supplies, such as the Caribbean false mussel damaging fisheries in Kerala, India.
  • Spread of Diseases: Invasive species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti can spread diseases like malaria, Zika, and West Nile Fever, posing risks to human health.
  • Impact on Fisheries: For example, water hyacinth in Lake Victoria led to the depletion of tilapia fish, significantly impacting local fisheries and livelihoods.

-Source: Indian Express

ADB’s forecast for India’s GDP growth


Recently, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) released the forecast for India’s GDP growth.



  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About ADB
  2. Areas of focus
  3. India and ADB


  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) raised its forecast for India’s GDP growth in the current fiscal year ending on March 31, 2025, to 7%, from 6.7% earlier.
  • Reasons:
    • Robust public and private investment
    • Expectations of a gradual improvement in consumer demand as the rural economy recovers.
  • It also projected that India’s economy would expand by 7.2% in fiscal 2025-26.
  • However, the growth forecast figures are still lower than the 7.6% pace that India’s National Statistical Office.

About ADB:

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a regional development bank that extends loans and investments for development initiatives in its member countries.
  • The bank was established in 1966 with the support of the United Nations organization, now known as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and under the leadership of Japan, one of the first industrialized countries in Asia.
  • ADB’s headquarters is situated in the Ortigas Center in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines.
  • ADB started with 31 members and now has 68. Out of these, 49 are regional members located in Asia, benefiting from the bank’s programs, and 19 are non-regional members, mainly from Western countries, contributing capital to the bank.
  • The bank admits members of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and non-regional developed countries.
  • The decision-making process at ADB is similar to that of the World Bank, with the number of votes a member holds corresponding to their share ownership. Presently, Japan holds the highest number of shares, constituting about 15.5% of the bank’s ownership.

Areas of Focus:

  • ADB concentrates on key development areas aligned with the World Bank’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • These areas encompass education, health, transport, energy, the finance sector, and climate change. ADB aims to foster sustainable and inclusive economic growth by financing projects in fields such as education and health and by enhancing capital markets and business infrastructure in target countries.
  • The bank also undertakes specialized areas like Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), Information Technology, Regional Cooperation and Integration, and more, serving as secondary capacity-building programs.

India and ADB:

  • India is a founding member of ADB and ranks as the bank’s fourth-largest shareholder.
  • Since its initiation in India in 1986, ADB has aligned its operations with the government’s development priorities. This approach will persist through the forthcoming country partnership strategy for 2023–2027.
  • ADB remains dedicated to revitalizing India’s economy, generating formal job opportunities, addressing climate challenges, and assisting lower-income states. ADB’s operations also promote private sector development, gender empowerment, regional integration, knowledge solutions, and capacity development.
  • Up to the present time, ADB has committed $52.6 billion in public sector loans, grants, and technical assistance to India, with cumulative loan and grant disbursements totaling $40.71 billion, financed through regular ordinary capital resources and other special funds. ADB’s sovereign portfolio encompasses 66 loans amounting to $15.4 billion.

-Source: The Hindu

Novel Hydrogen to aid the removal of Microplastics from water


Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have designed a sustainable hydrogel to remove microplastics from water.


GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. What are microplastics?
  3. Health hazard of microplastics
  4. Effect of microplastics on Environment


  • According to IISc, the sustainable hydrogel designed by the researchers has a unique intertwined polymer network that can bind the contaminants and degrade them using UV light irradiation.
  • 3D hydrogels: The novel hydrogel designed by the researchers consists of three different polymer layers – chitosan, polyvinyl alcohol and polyaniline – intertwined together, making an interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) architecture.
  • The team infused this matrix with nanoclusters of a material called copper substitute polyoxometalate (Cu-POM).
  • These nanoclusters are catalysts that can use UV light to degrade the microplastics.  
  • The perfect combination of the polymers and nanoclusters resulted in a strong hydrogel with the ability to adsorb and degrade large amounts of microplastics.
  • The hydrogel proved to be highly efficient – it could remove about 95% and 93% of two different types of microplastics in water at near-neutral pH (∼6.5).

What are Microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny plastic debris that are smaller than 5 mm in length, tinier than even a grain of rice.

There are two types of microplastics:

  • Primary microplastics are tiny particles that are purposely designed as such for commercial use, like in cosmetics, nurdles-plastic pellets used in industrial manufacturing and in fibres from synthetic textiles like nylon.
  • Secondary microplastics are formed through the degradation of larger plastic items like bottles, fishing nets and plastic bags. This occurs through exposure to the environment, like radiation from the sun, wind and ocean waves.

Health hazard of microplastics

  • It is not yet clear if these microplastics can cross over from the blood stream to deposit in organs and cause diseases.
  • The report point out that the human placenta has shown to be permeable to tiny particles of polystyrene ( 50, 80 and 24 nanometre beads).
  • Experiments on rats where its lungs were exposed to polystryrene spheres (20 nanometre) led to translocation of the nanoparticles to the placental and fetal tissue.
  • Oral administration of microplastics in rats led to accumulation of these in the liver, kidney and gut.
  • Further studies have to be carried out to really assess the impact of plastics on humans.

Effect of Microplastics on Environment:

  • While microplastics have been found across the world, from the world’s deepest ocean floors to the peak of Mount Everest, researchers say that this is the first time that they have been found in freshly fallen snow in Antarctica.
  • It shows that the spread of microplastics is so widespread, that even the remotest and least habitable places in the world are now infested by these particles.
  • The presence of these particles can pose a huge threat to Antarctica’s distinctive ecosystem.
  • Microplastics are not biodegradable and once they are found in the environment, they begin to accumulate.
  • They can be toxic for plants and animals.
  • The report claims that ingestion of microplastics by various life forms in the region, from microorganisms like zooplankton to larger predators like king penguins can disrupt their usual biological processes and negatively impact the entire Antarctic food chain.
  • The presence of microplastics in Antarctica can also worsen the impact of climate change.
  • Ice sheets and glaciers are already rapidly melting, and the report suggests that the microplastics deposited in ice and snow can accelerate the melting of the cryosphere — regions where water is in solid form, like the planet’s North and South Poles.
  • Dark-coloured microplastics, which constituted 55% of the samples collected in Aves’ study, are even more harmful than lighter colours, as they are better at absorbing sunlight and retain more heat.

-Source: The Hindu, Hindustan Times

Domestic Violence Act is applicable to all women irrespective of religion, social background


The Delhi High Court recently observed that the Domestic Violence Act is applicable to all women irrespective of religion, social background.

  • The observation was made by the HC while dismissing a plea moved by a husband and his relatives challenging an appellate court order restoring the domestic violence complaint of the wife.


GS-II Social Justice

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Domestic Violence Act 2005
  2. How is Domestic Violence defined?
  3. Recent government schemes to achieve gender equality
  4. Steps Taken by the Indian Government

Domestic Violence Act 2005:

  • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to protect women from domestic violence.
  • It was brought into force by the Indian government from 26 October 2006.
  • The Act provides for the first time in Indian law a definition of “domestic violence”, with this definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.
  • It is a civil law meant primarily for protection orders and not for meant to be enforced criminally.

How is Domestic Violence defined?

  • Domestic violence is defined by Section 3 of the Act as:
  • Any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it:
    • harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or
    • harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or
    • has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”
  • The Act goes on, through the section Explanation 1, to define “physical abuse”, “sexual abuse”, “verbal and emotional abuse” and “economic abuse”.

Recent government schemes to achieve gender equality:

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
  • Scheme for Adolescent Girls
  • National Nutrition Mission (NNM)
  • Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra

Steps Taken by the Indian Government:

Constitutional Safeguards:

  • Fundamental Rights: It guarantees all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State on the basis of gender (Article 15(1)) and special provisions to be made by the State in favour of women (Article 15(3)).
  • Directive Principles of State Policies (DPSP): It ensures equal pay for equal work (Article 39 (d)).
  • Fundamental Duties: It ensures that practices derogatory to the dignity of women are prohibited under Article 51 (A).
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005:
  • It provides victims of domestic violence with a means for practical remedy through prosecution.
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961:
  • It prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry.
  • The sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and redressal) Act, 2013:
  • This legislative act seeks to protect women from sexual harassment at their place of work.

-Source: The Indian Express

May 2024